Here are some items of interest about the City’s flag, which have been compiled in honor of Flag Day.
:: The official City Flag has changed design four times since 1861. The original design (1850-1861) was a blue cross from corner to corner over a red field, with a white star in the center. This flag design was retired in 1861 due to a superficial resemblance to the battle flag of the Confederate States of America.
:: The first official City Flag was sewn by local seamstress Bernadette ‘Betsy’ Reece (1812 – 1898). She was born June 18, 1812 – the day the United States declared war on England, and died December 10, 1898, the day the U.S. ratified the peace treaty with Spain.
:: The current City Flag (1954-2007) was designed by Otto Klein, an 8th grader at St. Mary’s Christian Academy, who won a “Pledge of Allegiance” design contest sponsored by the late Union-Star-Sentinel-Telegraph-Bee Gazette newspaper. Mr. Klein is currently a resident of Fort Myers, Florida.
:: The largest City Flag (1918 – 1935), 64’ x 96’, was first displayed at Old City Hall in December 1918, to welcome back veterans returning from WWI. It was designed by city Treasurer Jerry Park (aka ‘Jurri Parkkonen’), an immigrant from Finland, after the blue and white bent-armed aviator’s cross of the Finnish Air Force flag. This flag design was quietly retired in 1935.
:: A plan to update the design of the City Flag in 1976 was scrapped due to budget cuts. The issue has been brought before the City Council three times since, but has failed to garner significant support.
:: The three flagpoles outside City Hall are 49’ (US Flag), 42’ (State Flag), and 41’6” (City Flag). They are raised in that order each morning at 5:45 a.m. by City Council Sergeant-at-Arms Dale Billis. They are lowered to half-staff by majority vote of the City Council, with votes taken on the advice of City Historian Clara McNee and Assistant Director of City Services Dave Pulian.
:: The flags at City Hall are at half-staff this week due to the recent passing of Benjamin ‘Bud’ Carter, Director of Municipal Animal Control Services.
– D. Andrews